How to Check if Your Website Was Penalized by Google?

How to Check if Your Website Was Penalized by Google?

Has your website traffic decreased dramatically over a short period of time? Do you worry about lower positions in the search results? If so, your page might have been penalized by Google. In today’s entry we’ll tell you how and where to find out if your site was filtered.

In the SEO industry, both manual and algorithm filters enjoy great popularity and the online world abounds in articles discussing these two issues. However, let’s assume that you aren’t an SEO tycoon and your presence here is rather accidental. You have your own website and you want it to generate traffic and improve sales. After all, that’s why you’ve designed it. For this purpose, you read SEO blog posts, test various solutions and check what activities can bring you the intended results. But, you still aren’t 100% sure whether these actions are seen by Google as positive. There’s also another possible scenario: you have a website and cooperate with an SEO agency but the results described in reports you get every month are pretty disturbing. If you have heard about the Google penalty but weren’t actually sure how to check whether your website was filtered, our today’s entry will help you dispel any doubts.

Google penalty – what is it?

Websites should comply with the rules established and updated by Google. So where to look for information describing an ideal page? Obviously in Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. They contain tips discussing website content, the way it’s displayed, and techniques that you should absolutely get rid of. All of these to make sure that users access needed information after typing a given query into the search engine. Adjusting your page to these rules will help you reach higher positions in the search results. This is a complex, demanding, time and energy-consuming process because you can’t expect spectacular results overnight. However, some people try to find a shortcut and achieve better Google positions faster, consequently, they don’t follow the established rules. Nevertheless, trying to deceive Google usually results in a penalty or filter.

A Google penalty is imposed on a website for unethical, anti-policy activities that aim at increasing the page’s position unnaturally.

What’s the difference between penalties and bans?

It’s worth analyzing this issue as these two terms are often confused and seen as synonymous.

A ban means that a website is indexed out of the search results and won’t be displayed on Google anymore. In simple terms, it stops existing. If you type the site:website name command in the browser bar, you’ll see “0”. Google imposes bans very rarely, usually in extremely difficult cases when someone shamefully breaks the rules. Your page can’t be banned for activities you aren’t able to control or for external links to your site.

Now, as we know what a Google penalty is and we determined that every website can be filtered, let’s try to answer the main question of this entry:

How to check if my website was penalized by Google?

At this point, it’s necessary to distinguish between manual and algorithm filters. What are they and how to check them? Keep reading!

A manual action is a penalty imposed by Google Search Quality Team that analyzes websites every day and checks whether they comply with Google principles. Due to this penalty, the positions of all or some phrases decrease drastically which results in a drop in website traffic.

Manual Action

Step #1: discover the truth!

Being unaware of the current state of affairs is frequently one of the greatest issues of website owners. You can suspect that your page was penalized but you still may not be sure. Many pages are filtered and their admins are completely unaware. Why? Because they don’t use such a basic tool as Google Search Console which informs about the website, helps to monitor phrases it’s displayed on, provides a list of the finest keywords, and, more importantly, enables checking if the site was penalized.

Step #2:

  • Log into the Search Console account of your website.
  • Click in the menu on the left: Security & Manual Actions and choose Manual Actions from the menu.

How to check if your webstie has manual action

Here, you may get either positive:

checking google penalty

Or negative feedback:

google manual action detected information

If you don’t have complete matches, check the partial ones as well.

Complete matches mean lowering the positions of all website phrases, whereas partial matches decrease positions of selected phrases with unnatural activity.

What are the types of manual Google filters?

You can see each of the notifications listed below in the Google Search Console. To find more detailed descriptions, go to the Manual Actions report.

  1. Unnatural links to your site.
  2. Unnatural links from your site.
  3. Pure spam.
  4. Spam generated by users.
  5. Sneaky mobile redirects.
  6. Hidden texts or keyword stuffing.
  7. Spammy free hosts.
  8. Spammy tag structures.
  9. Low-quality content.
  10. Hacked website.
  11. Graphic cloaking.
  12. Cloaking: violating the right to the first entry without any restrictions.

Now you know how to check whether your website has a manual filter. It’s time to focus on a harder nut to crack.

An algorithm filter is imposed by Penguin or Panda algorithm, not by humans. Currently, due to the implementation of Penguin 4.0, further updates won’t be announced and all the activities will be monitored in real-time. But will it really look like this in real life? We’ll see. Algorithm penalties decrease website traffic and positions. The reasons for imposing these penalties are much more complex and it’s also harder to get rid of the problems.

How to check whether my website has an algorithm filter?

This task is much more complex than in the case of manual penalties as this time, you don’t get any information that your page was filtered. There aren’t any indications in Search Console, you don’t get a message saying “Dear Mrs/Mr, we would like to inform you that we impose a Google penalty on your website”. You need to thoroughly observe everything related to your page and all updates implemented by Google. Monitor your positions and website traffic in Google Analytics and Google Search Console.

google penalty how to fix

What may indicate that my website was penalized?

A rapid traffic drop over a short time period. And we aren’t talking about a seasonal decrease or almost inconspicuous changes but about a serious traffic drop noticeable right away. When checking data from Google Analytics, you can precisely determine the time frame when the traffic decreased or even establish the exact day when it’s started. With such information, you can verify whether any other activities were performed on your page during that time – if not, you have serious reasons to get more suspicious. Next, you should compare the dates of traffic decreases with the dates of algorithm updates. If they’re the same, it’s clear what happened. Traffic decrease may entail sudden position changes. If your site has many TOP 3 phrases that are suddenly ranked almost at the end of the search results and the situation doesn’t improve, your website was probably penalized.

Why can my website be penalized?

Because of all the elements analyzed by Google algorithms. Duplicate content, too many optimizations, keyword stuffing, or poor quality of external links leading to your page. The list of possible reasons is endless, that’s why the issue is so complex. If your website is filtered, the greatest challenge is to determine the exact source of the problem. This is due to the fact that a Google penalty may be a result of several or even more elements. The filter will be removed once you get rid of all the harmful factors. Then, you’ll quickly witness a sudden increase in your website traffic and positions.

Today you learned about manual and algorithm filters and methods of checking whether your website was penalized. Let’s assume that after reading this entry you came to the conclusion that your page was filtered. What now? How to deal with these penalties? Soon, you’ll be able to read about it on our blog. Stay tuned!

Head of SEO - Gosia

Head of SEO

SEO Team Leader, in Delante, practically from the beginning of the company's existence. She specializes in positioning of the e-commerce industry in Poland and abroad. She makes sure that everything plays in the SEO team. Fan of foxes, cinemas, series and discovering new restaurants in Cracow.
Comments (3)
  1. If I noticed a sudden drop in online visibility, but there are no manual actions detected in Google Search Console – is that have to be the algorithm filter or should I look for something more?

  2. Thanks for the info. My blog started in 2006 and had 2,000 hits the first year, then 6,000, then 50,000, then died in 2010. I’ve never understood what they did. When I moved in 2010 to a new address, the first day at the new adress was over 200 hits, then the very next day it was down to nothing again.

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